The fruit of the coconut palm can be consumed in so many ways. Above all, its revitalising water and delicious pulp can be prepared in a variety of ways. Grated coconut makes a terrific addition to any dessert. You’ll find so many uses for this miraculous plant – from diet to skincare and medicine to creative endeavours. You can even give one to your dog if he’s an avid chewer. Let’s discover more about cocos nucifera.
In its native climes – tropical countries, of course – coconut is legendary for its antibacterial powers and antioxidant content. It works to control parasites and hypoglycaemia. What’s more, it has hepatoprotective and immunostimulant properties. The seed of this fruit are where the main benefits lie. At maturity, it contains countless vitamins, minerals and oligo elements, all of which are essential to human beings. Its list of nutrients is impressive: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, selenium, iodine, zinc, fluoride, manganese. And that’s just for starters.
As the name would suggest, the coconut is a nut, but you eat its seed. It’s quite large in size. Inside the coconut, there is coconut “water” or “milk”. Once opened, there’s a pristine white meat. The outer shell is a chocolate brown. Coconuts help us in the battle against stress, weight gain, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and fluid retention.
A fruity fuel for athletes
If you’re someone who regularly plays sports, you’d do well to introduce yourself to coconut water. Its beneficial properties are wide ranging. To name a few, it’s:
- hydrating: There’s a high percentage of dehydration-preventing water and minerals in coconuts. It’s unbeatable as an ally during training and competitions. Because it’s low in fat and sugars, it has no calories. As you can well imagine, this is a popular drink in hot countries, due to its instant thirst quenching powers.
- mineralising: It helps to improve heart function and regulate muscle tone.
- antioxidising: Some of this fruit’s minerals – selenium and zinc, for instance – have antioxidant properties. This is why it’s a popular ingredient in beauty treatments, creams and sun protection.
- energising: Eat the flesh or drink the water after a hectic day, post-workout or if you live in a hot climate. Coconut’s unique flavour will add an extra dimension of deliciousness to smoothies or fruit juices such as orange, grapefruit or banana, but it really pairs well with most fruits, so let your imagination run riot.
- blood pressure regulating: Although it’s high in saturated fats, these are healthy fats and provide a great energy reserve for the body. These properties are found in the pulp and milk.
It does your heart good
The liquid contained in this fruit when it isn’t fully ripe is called coconut water and studies show that its low in sugar and fat, but rich in minerals and oligo elements. In places where the trees are plentiful, locals drink the water fresh, immediately after cutting it from the tree. This drink has become so popular that it’s now sold around the world in Tetra Paks and bottles.
Drinking the water will help regulate blood pressure by reducing triglycerides in people who suffer from high cholesterol. In addition, it has anti-diabetic and hypoglycaemic properties.
What to know about coconut oil
Looking for even more creative ways to incorporate this fruit into your daily life? You can use it as an essential oil. After breast milk, it’s the best source of healthy fatty acids. It’ll fortify your immune system and help your body to combat illness, infection, bacteria and assorted viruses.
Reliable, scientific information about this oil is lacking, but its popularity around the world continues to grow. If you use the raw, virgin oil as opposed to the adulterated and hydrogenated kind, you should notice an improvement in your general health and a reduction in your cholesterol levels. It’s thought to increase metabolic efficiency, which will help you lose weight and address certain conditions (such as thyroid disorders). What else can it do? It protects your heart’s cells and can also ease the symptoms of menopause and premenstrual tension (PMT).
More about the water
In addition to its ability to improve cardiovascular health, the power of coconut water is almost equivalent to breast milk. The ramifications of this are immense, but one benefit is that it cleanses the kidneys of damaging substances. Good for the body’s internal hygiene, it’s recommended for children because it is packed with vitamin C, natural sugars and a multitude of minerals. As if this weren’t mindblowing enough, it’s also known to relieve vomiting, gas and the symptoms of urinary tract infections. Because it’s a reliable diuretic, it’s great for cleansing the kidneys.
This wonder fruit can maintain kidney function, smooth digestive transit and help the liver to function properly. It prevents infection, helps to control diabetes and regulates the intestines. Tension in the pancreas is greatly relieved when coconut’s introduced into the diet. Even the enzyme systems improve. Bladder diseases respond well to this plant and, as a bonus, it keeps your skin silky smooth and well hydrated.
Pregnant? Enjoy coconut’s bounty
When eaten either in its pulp form or as milk or water, cocos nucifera is recommended for women who are pregnant. It’s marvelous for a future mother and her baby because it contains vast amounts of the very nutrients and properties that help pregnancy proceed smoothly. These elements provide heaps of energy and loads of vitamins.
A natural isotonic beverage, it replaces liquids and can prevent ankle swelling, a common complaint in pregnant women. To stay hydrated during pregnancy, you couldn’t really ask for more from one source.
But wait! Did you know that it’s free from cholesterol and fat? When you eat during pregnancy, you won’t gain more weight than your GP would recommend that you do during the 9 month period.
Your immune system will become stronger, so you’ll feel ill less frequently and won’t need to worry about putting harmful pain medication into your system. This, of course, will have knock-on benefits for the foetus by reinforcing his or her own defences.
The water can prevent and soothe stomach acid, as well as control feelings of nausea or the desire to vomit – all of which are frequent during the first few months of gestation. It helps reduce the likelihood of constipation (also common during pregnancy), as well.
Images courtesy of Chandrika Nair, Celine Nadeau, Jeffery Wong, John Revo Puno, Montse PB.